MUNICIPAL WATER RIGHTS.

MUNICIPAL WATER RIGHTS.

THE subject of municipal water rights is at present receiving considerable attention at the hands of welldisposed citizens, as well as those of the political demagogue. Thepopular cry is, “Down with corporations that control anything in the shape of railroad transportation, gas, water, electric lighting, telephone, and telegraph systems!” But would it not be well for the advocates of the doctrine of public utilities to consider bow far they may consistently go upon the lines of extinguishing all corporate bodies which maintain their life and existence through the sovereign from whence the corporate right, is obtained? The People is the sovereign power, and it is for the People to bestow that power upon corporations. Wherefore, to impeach the sovereignty of the People, because it chose under the law to delegate its power to corporations is silly and contemptible. Some strong and substantial argument, convincing and indisputable, must be presented to the People before it can appreciate the doctrine of public utility and public ownership of corporations. It is not difficult to imagine or to picture the condition of affairs, if any political party were to administer the business of the many private corporations which now depend upon the patronage of the People, and for this reason the advocates of such a state of things should look closely into the question of the advantages of public ownership before they hastily commit themselves to such a policy. It may well be asked: Would gas, water, railway, telephone, or telegraph service be any cheaper in price or better in quality than it is now when itis administered by private corporations? Is there any public official or economist that can show that any financial advantage would inure to the city through its beiug iu possession of the franchises now owned by the corporations alluded to? Would not the annual deficite shown by municipal administration records be augmented? To revert to that right of eminent domain which we have so often quoted: No one can deny the existence of that right. It is the sovereign will of the People. But the question is certainly debatable, and the real ground on which to debate it is not eminent domain, pure and simple, but the wisdom, the economy, the propriety, and the advantage to be derived from its possession and in administering it better and more wisely than it is administered by private corporations. The right of eminent domain as exercised by some municipalities, situated not many miles from New York, is a disgrace to modern civilization, and, if a private corporation had the temerity to trample upon the rights of the People to the sameextent as these municipalities do their charters.it would be summarily dissolved, and the case for the companies would not even be argued. No one, of course, denies the right of the municipality to exercise the right of eminent domain. But, where an organized effort is made to deprive a water company of its charter which it has fairly and honestly acquired, simply because the municipality wants to get possession of it without making compensation or payment to the water company that acquired it in the beginning, then the company undeniably has the right to defend that charter which wasoriginally given by the sovereign will of the People; nor can the charter be dissolved withoutj violating the sovereign will of that People. 8ueh a charter is property more tangible than material, and if the municipality wants it and the officers of the municipality believe and can prove that, as its possessors, they can do better for the people than can the owners of the charter, then let them purchase it and try the experiment. That is only common justice, and we do not believe the legislature of New York will ever be a party to stealing a charter belonging to a private corporation, any more than we believe that the municipality of this city would take the same steps. If ideal government prevailed, there would be no need for discussing the doctrine of public ownership. As yet, however, it would seem as if public ownership had proved a dead flat failure iu many respects, so far, at least, as true economy is concerned, hence the reason why private ownership is demanded by the public. Everything free too often means a [deficit, to be provided for in the tax levy.

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